So my virtual assistant quit yesterday morning.
She was supposed to fill in time sheets on a daily basis so that I knew how her time was being apportioned, but she hadn’t completed one since last Friday. So I sent her an email asking why. She replied telling me that she had gone out of town on holiday, and wouldn’t be doing any more work for me.
So that was a bit of smack in the chops. I also got an email yesterday from Unique Article Wizard, telling me that my first article submissions had been rejected for the following reasons:
- Article has grammar issues that make it hard to read. Please proofread and make necessary changes.
- Some of your keywords are not relevant to the article content. The system uses the keywords and category selections to ensure that your article is filed properly with the directories. Please make sure your keywords relate to the topic of the article.
I was surprised to receive this email, as I was following Spencer Haws’ backlinking strategy to the letter. I dropped Spencer a line to let him know what had happened, and he was equally surprised. He speculated that the problem was down to UAW tightening their quality control, and SimplyPLR producing less than stellar content more recently. I can certainly verify the second point – to be honest, even the un-spun versions of SimplyPLR’s content is pretty crap (and the spun versions are terrible).
Rather than move into damage control to take care of these problems, I actually decided to take a step back and reevaluate my niche site strategy at a macro level. My evaluation has led me to consider a completely different course of action from what I had planned.
One thing has become resoundingly clear to me – I have gone about things in completely the wrong way. That has led to a lot of wasted time and money. I am not too concerned about that – not only do you have to spend money to make money, you also have to spend money to learn. And I have been learning plenty. Besides, there is no point crying over spilt milk – the money and time is gone forever – all I can do is try to improve my processes moving forwards.
With that said, I thought that it might be of value to pass on what I have learnt.
1. Do Everything Yourself (To Start With)
Near the end of January, I wasn’t particularly enamored with the idea of writing content and populating my niche sites. I decided that I wanted to outsource the whole shebang. Part of my logic was that I could actually make a net profit outsourcing the work and spending the time I gained doing freelance work.
Whilst that is absolutely true, I missed one key pointer – when it comes to building niche sites, you generally need to do everything yourself at least once. If you don’t have a good idea of how everything comes together, how on earth are you supposed to teach someone else to do it?
Case in point: I spent Saturday afternoon trying to prepare a tutorial video for downloading pre-spun articles and submitting them via UAW before I had even done it myself. After 3 hours, I gave up because not only was I unfamiliar with the procedure, I didn’t even know if the articles would get accepted. Stupid stupid stupid.
You need to be very comfortable with every element of the process in order to outsource it. It’s much like how the owner of a business should have at least a rudimentary understanding of what all of his employees do. Laziness and impatience will do you no favors when it comes to outsourcing work.
2. Build A Solid System, Then Outsource It
This tip is not so much about the process, but more about how you teach it.
I remember listening to an Online Income Lab podcast back at the start of the year. Trent was interviewing a chap called Matthew Newton, and he talked in detail about how he had put together the training material for his VA. He actually roped his brother into testing the system for him, and kept working on it until it was essentially foolproof.
Knowing your system is just the first step. Translating your knowledge into clear and actionable instructions is another. I would personally recommend that you prepare training material in video format, for two reasons:
- Written instructions and screenshots take an absolute age to put together
- If your VA follows your instructions carefully, there is little room for error
First write out the steps, then use a piece of software such as Screenflow (for Mac – what I use) or Camtasia (for PC) to record them. If the process is somewhat complicated, you should split it up into several videos, so that your VA can take things step by step.
3. Once You Have Outsourced, Don’t Get Lazy
Here’s a fact – everyone makes mistakes. Your VA is no exception to that rule. If you think that you can hand over your training videos and wipe your hands of the whole process, you will be in for a shock. You can of course leave your VA to his or her own devices, but they will get things wrong. It doesn’t have to be about incompetence – it can simply be about making honest mistakes.
In the first few weeks of your VA learning a new process, you should follow their progress carefully, and correct any minor errors along the way. Far better to nip mistakes in the bud than for them to turn into a habit. If major mistakes are being made, there is either something wrong with your training material, or you’ve hired the wrong person.
4. Know That Your System Works Before You Outsource It
For me, this is by far the most important point. You can get away with the others to a certain extent, but if you have simply dreamt up a system, created training material, then handed it over to your VA, you’re going to end up wasting a lot of money.
Because believe me – the system you start with will not be the system you end up with. Unless you have money to burn, it’s best that you make the majority of your mistakes on a lower budget (i.e. one where you are doing the bulk of the work).
I decided I was going to outsource before I had any of my processes down. Some of it came together quite nicely, with little financial loss (such as keyword research, content creation, and site population), but I have hemorrhaged money elsewhere (particularly in link building subscriptions that I haven’t even used) because I essentially didn’t know what I was doing.
Before you start outsourcing your process (or any particular element of it), make sure that your system works. For instance, I am very happy with my keyword research process, so I would happily outsource that (although I will probably always do the final analysis and decision making). But my link building strategy is still up in the air, so I need to keep costs low on that front, find a winning formula, then forwards with a concrete system.
In A Nutshell – Know Your System
All of the above advice boils down to one main point – you should know your niche site building system back to front before you outsource it. At that stage, you will be scaling up on a winning formula.
I mentioned at the start of this article that I have decided to take a change of direction with regards to my niche site building business model. Stay tuned, as I will be revealing my plans very soon.
I know that quite a few of you outsource at least part of your niche site building process. So please chime in with your thoughts – do you agree with what I have said above? Do you have additional recommendations? Let us know in the comments section – and thank you in advance for your input!
Creative Commons photo courtesy of stuartpilbrow